Nicaragua 'asks EU ambassador to leave the country'

Move comes after bloc called on Nicaragua's leader to 'restore democracy'

The Nicaraguan government declared the EU's ambassador to the country to be "persona non grata" and ordered her expulsion. Reuters
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Nicaragua has asked the EU's ambassador to leave the country after officials declared the representative to be "persona non grata", according to reports.

EU ambassador Bettina Muscheidt was summoned to the Foreign Ministry, where she was declared "non grata" and notified that she should leave the country, a diplomatic source said.

Ms Muscheidt is no longer welcome in Nicaragua, a source said.

The EU ambassador was reportedly asked to leave the country on Wednesday.

The decision by President Daniel Ortega's government is the latest push to punish those who appear to criticise him, after a broad clampdown on independent media and the gutted political opposition over the past few years.

Neither the government's press office nor the foreign ministry responded to requests for comment.

The decision to force Ms Muscheidt to leave the Central American country follows a statement by the EU at the UN last week in which it urged M Ortega to "restore democracy".

The EU also pressed for the release of political prisoners and respect for human rights.

Ms Muscheidt "has been expelled in a vulgar way", tweeted former ambassador to the Organisation of American States, Arturo McFields, who resigned from his post in March.

There have been other high-profile diplomatic rejections in recent months.

Hugo Rodriguez, a nominee to serve as US ambassador to Nicaragua, was denied his post by the government in June.

In February, the Vatican's ambassador to Managua, Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, was declared persona non grata and ordered to leave.

Nationwide protests against Mr Ortega broke out in 2018, resulting in more than 300 deaths, most at the hands of police.

During last year's presidential election, his main political challengers were all arrested and a broad assault on dissent was enforced.

Mr Ortega, 76, a former Marxist rebel who helped to topple a right-wing dictatorship in the late 1970s, came back to power in 2007 and sailed to a fourth term in a November election widely criticised as a sham.

Updated: September 29, 2022, 3:59 AM